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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Rebirth of the blender

Overshadowed for years by the
glitzier food processor, the blender
is back and perfect for today's
fresh juice drinks and
designer sauces


By Cynthia Oi


THERE'S the blender and there's the food processor. They are similar kitchen tools: Both have sharp blades, both whirl food around and mix up stuff.

Blenders can only handle certain foods; they can't knead doughs and are limited in chopping meats and stringy vegetables and fruits. But while processors can blend most foods, blenders blend a lot better and are more versatile, says Marc Villanueva, manager of Compleat Kitchen.

The history of the blender starts in 1936 with a man named Fred Osius, an inventor of a mixer he thought would "revolutionize people's eating habits." Dressed in striped pants, a cutaway coat and a lemon-yellow tie -- an outfit to impress, one guesses -- Osius button-holed Fred Waring, a popular bandleader at the time, after the entertainer's concert in a New York theater. He convinced Waring to put up money to manufacture his blender.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
The blender from Executive Chef makes quick work of the
freshest ingredients, turning them into sauces,
juices, pestos and more.

After several prototypes and a lot of trial and error, the Waring blender was perfected. The appliance was introduced in 1937 at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.

Several other manufacturers jumped on the wagon, and appliance and department stores soon carried many brands of blenders.

Then, in the late 1970s, came the food processor. Its blades, carafe and presence were bigger than those of the blender and as cooking became a trendy pastime, blenders began to take a back seat to the processor.

But with the present popularity of whipped-up drinks -- healthful fruit-based ones as well as alcohol-laced beverages -- the blender's useful qualities stand tall. For smoothies, frappes, sauces, marinades and the ever-popular margaritas, it can't be beat, says Villanueva, who is a graduate of Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.


Bullet More than smoothies: Dr. Jonas Salk used a blender spin-off to prepare culture materials used in developing his polio vaccine.

Bullet A bargain now: The first blender, which Waring introduced in 1937, sold for $29.75 as an appliance for making frozen daiquiris and similar beverages.

Bullet Slow to sell: Only 86,705 blenders were sold between 1937 and 1943, when war restrictions halted production. The one-millionth blender sold in 1954.

Source: Waring Products

Blenders now have increased capabilities. Some models have seven to eight blade speeds and buttons marked "puree" and "whip," among other modes. Some even boast that they can crush ice without adding liquids, a feature valuable to those who don't like their margaritas watered down.

Vicki Kaleopaa, manager of Executive Chef in Ward Warehouse, says newer blenders can handle heavier tasks. And you don't need the multiple speeds and functions that some models push.

"People are used to all the buttons on blender panels," she said. "All you really need is the on-off switch and the high speed and low speed to do the job."

Kaleopaa thinks blenders are better for such sauces as mayonnaise, aioli and coulis.

She and Villanueva recommend blenders with glass carafes. Krups and Cuisinart have new models with wide, glass containers that will withstand years of use, Villanueva said.

Kaleopaa uses her blender to make sauces, smoothies, milk shakes and salsas.

Her favorite is a shake made with a banana, a "healthy scoop" of peanut butter, vanilla ice cream or milk, a drop of vanilla extract and some ice.

She also makes her own peanut butter in her blender. "Just drop in some peanuts, and turn on the blender," she said.

Villanueva purees fruit to make a coulis to dress up a simple dish of ice cream and whirls vegetables and herbs for marinades or pastes to spread over a broiled chicken breast, fillet of fish or breads. He also buzzes up a mean garlic-lover's pesto with his blender. (See recipe at left.)

He considers his blender a major player among cooking tools.

"Every kitchen should have a blender. I can't get along with it," he said.

"And whatever you do, always leave it on the counter top. If you store it away, you won't use it."

Blend up a meal


1 bulb fresh garlic, peeled
Low sodium salt to taste
1-1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup pine nuts

Place garlic and salt in blender and blend until a paste is formed. Add basil leaves. Blend while pouring a stream of oil through the hole in blender cap. Add pepper and cheese to taste; blend again. Stir in pine nuts.

Toss with pasta or serve over grilled chicken or fish.

Variation: Mix pesto with softened butter. Form into log by rolling in waxed paper or plastic wrap and sealing ends. Refrigerate. When hard, slice medallions and serve over grilled steaks, chicken or fish, or spread on bruschetti.


"Margarita Cookbook," by W. Park Kerr (El Paso Chile Co., 1999)

2 canned chipolte chiles in adobo
3 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon sauce from chipolte can
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound (about 20) medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil

In blender, combine chipoltes, tequila, lime juice, ketchup, adobo sauce, garlic, sugar and salt. Blend until smooth. Put shrimp in nonreactive bowl, pour mixture over, and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Strain shrimp. Reserve marinade.

In a heavy skillet over high heat, add oil and swirl to coat. Add shrimp and cook, tossing and stirring until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to serving dish.

Add reserved marinade to pan, bring to a boil, scraping pan often. Cook for about 15 seconds. Pour sauce over shrimp and serve immediately. Serves 4.


Adapted from Betty Crocker

1-1/2 cups apple juice
2 cups pitted prunes
2 tablespoons brandy or water
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Heat juice and prunes to boiling, reduce to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until prunes are soft.

Drain, reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Put the prunes, 1/2 cup liquid, brandy and zest in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in almonds. Refrigerate.

Serve with pork or ham, or spread on bread or toast, or use as a pastry filling. Makes 2 cups


Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup of peeled apple slices
5-6 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1 clove garlic

Put ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Baste on poultry or fish near end of broiling or grilling, or toss with hot pasta. Makes about 1-2/3 cups


Hamilton Beach/Proctor Silex

1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk
3 ounces cream cheese, cut in cubes

Put vanilla, sugar and chips into blender. Heat milk to steaming; mix in blender about 20 seconds. Add cream cheese and blend until well-mixed. Pour into 4 dessert bowls or parfait glasses and refrigerate at least 2 hours.


"Mexico the Beautiful" (Harper, 1999)

1-1/2 cups sugar syrup
3/4 cup mango slices
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Puree the syrup and mangoes in a blender or food processor. In a small skillet, melt the 1 tablespoon butter, add the puree and brown sugar and stir. When mixture begins to boil, remove from the heat. Serve over roasted chicken or Cornish game hens.


Hamilton Beach/Proctor Silex

2 tablespoons sliced jalapeno peppers
5 pepperoncini, stems removed
3 shallots
1 tablespoon ground allspice
5 whole cloves
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin

Blend all ingredients, except pork, on low speed until smooth. Pour over pork and marinate at least one hour.

Remove meat from marinade and roast in 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Serves 4.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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